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The Economy of Literature

, 192 pages
September 1993



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The Economy of Literature

Why did coinage, tyranny, and philosophy develop in the same time and place? Marc Shell explores how both money and language give "worth" by providing a medium of exchange, how the development of money led to a revolution in philosophical thought and language, and how words transform mere commodities into symbols at once aesthetic and practical. Offering carefully documented interpretations of texts from Heraclitus, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, and Ruskin, Shell demonstrates the kinship between literary and economic theory and production, introduces new methods of analyzing texts, and shows how literary and philosophical fictions can help us understand the world in which we live.

"Shell demonstrates that the economic thought of any historical period works in its literature far more problematically—and more profoundly—than a traditional description of economic influence can suggest."

"A unique study of the relationship between literature and matters economic from Ancient Greece to our own times."

"Stimulating and valuable."